April 1849-December 1849

The Collected Letters, Volume 24


JWC TO THOMAS CARLYLE; 5 September 1849; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18490905-JWC-TC-01; CL 24: 220-222


Sunny Bank / Wednesday / 25th[5 September 1849]

It looks a month since we parted at Dundee! I have had so much of both motional and “emotional culture” since that Friday evening! Gootlook did not follow me into the Orient by any means[,] a Headach followed me, and stuck by me till the monday that I left Kirkaldy:—of heartach I will not speak;—but there is no reason why I should be silent on the misfortune I happened an hour after my return to Fergusdom; that might have happened to anyone however little of an Egoist— I had lain down on the black coffin-like sofa in my bedroom to try what rest, such as could be had under the circumstances, would do for my head; when I felt something like a bluebottle creep inside my hand, shook it off, and oh my!—the next instant I was on foot like “a mad”—stung by a wasp!— Miss Jessie got the sting out, and admired it thro' her glass, and applied, on my own advice, laudnum and honey, but the pain went up to my shoulder and even down my side, and the swelling and inflamation spread so fast all up my arm that Miss Jessie could hardly be hindered from running herself for both a Doctor and a—silversmith! the last to cut a ring that could not be got off—but it was my Mothers little pebble ring and I would not suffer it to be cut and neither would I be at the cost of a Dr just yet—all that evevening I suffered horribly, in Silence, and all night “the trophies of The Wasp would not let me sleep”—not one wink—however I went next day to Auchtertoul with my hand in a poultice, being still determined to “come out of that” on Monday and unwilling to go without saying farewell to my poor Uncle, whom it is likely enough I shall never see again—on Sunday night the pain was sufficiently abated to let me sleep— So I was up to leaving according to programme by the quarter after eight train— John and Jessie were up to give me breakfast and see me off—and Mrs Nixon gave me a nice little trunk to facilitate my packing. They were really very kind the poor Ferguses but somehow or other they are radically uncomfortable people for us to be mixed up with—there is something sordid about them inspite of their “good intentions”—John I take to be at heart downright niggardly!

I got to the Princes Street Station a little before ten—and found on enquiry that I could have my luggage taken care of for me on paying the sum of sixpence for booking—so I left there everything but my writing case, in which were my jewels and your manuscript—and with that I got into a cab having bargained with the cabman for two shillings an hour (I tell you these details for your own guidance in case of your returning by Edinr) and drove to Adam Street to Betty1— Of all the meetings I have had in Scotland that was the most moving as well as the happiest. Was just all but a meeting betwixt Mother and child after twenty years separation! She was on her knees blackleading her grate all in confusion poor soul—her little carpet up, everything topsy turvy—a domestic earthquake having been commenced that very morning in preparation for my coming— Miss Anne2 having kindly warned her that she might be “all ready”—but I was too early and so found her all unready—only her heart as right as could be— Oh dear me how she does love me that woman! and how good and pious hearted she is—while I sat on her knee with my arms about her neck and she called me her ‘dear bairn’ and looked at me as if she would have made me welcome to her ‘skin’ I felt as nearly as possible perfectly happy—just fancy that! But I must not get into the details of my visit to her just now my few days here are so filled up—I have not yet seen half the people I wish to see.

She gave me four biscuits wrapt in her best pockethandkerchief and promised to see me at my Aunts before I left in the evening—and then I jumped into my cab again proceded to Clarence Street—a kind note received at Kirkaldy from Elizabeth had prepared me for a rather warmer welcome than I had anticipated—but not for so warm a one as I got—it was a great comfort to me to be so received by my Fathers Sisters however unlike him—my heart was opened by their kindness to tell them that it was nothing but apprehension of their bothering me about my soul which had estranged me from them so entirely— Anne's reply given with an arch look and tone was very nice—“indeed Jeanie you need not have been afraid of our setting ourselves to reform you—it is plain enough that nothing short of God's own grace can do that—but I wont despair that a time may come tho I am not such a fool as to think that I can hasten it.” Anne went out with me and we called for Mrs George3—not at home—at the Stoddarts—the Lady in the country—John petrified looking—either hardened into stone or quite stunned at seeing me—I could not tell which4—on our way to Mrs Sterlings we met her and she flew into my arms in the open street just as she would have done before writing Fanny Hervey5— I walked into Marshall the Jewellers6 who knew me at once—and a Mr Watson who met me on the Bridge shouted out Jeanie Welsh—but I will tell you all the rest after—Miss Catherine7 was waiting for me with a carriage at the Haddington Station—told me there was a letter from you here for me—but it proved only the briefest of notes from John Yours however came yesterday forenoon just when I was Sallying out to make calls— I was thro' all our house yesterday from garret to kitchen— Every body is so good to me so very good— Miss Howden brought me a bouquet “out of your own garden” last night, and Helen Howden8 has just sent me her children to look at—and you wrote me a nice long letter—so I ought to be thankful I go back to 10 Clarence street on Thursday (tomorrow night) and stay with my Aunts till Saturday when I shall go to Scotsbrig I have written to John [no signature]